July 15th, 2008

writing shadow unit chaz gravity

and those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces--

truepenny and I went climbing last night with the mighty Alisa and The Jeff. Mostly, I did fairly easy routes I have done before--though I was much less mighty than I was last Wednesday, probably in part because Sarah and I walked about eight miles on Sunday and then I went running yesterday morning because it was actually cool for a change (OK, it's also cool right now, but I promised the meat a day off today and anyway we will likely be hiking all over Mystic later this morning. Poor meat. It leads such a strenuous existence. Really, it would have preferred to have been issued to a couch potato).--but in addition, I've also started working on my gym's easiest bouldering route.*

Which has an overhang (bitch) and I am not yet strong enough to make the last move and also still scared of falling off the top of the wall, so I'm not yet very good at making myself try. Getting that right hand to unlatch from the hold it's clinging to desperately when the crash pad is twelve feet under your butt and the next hold requires a great big lunge on awkwardly-positioned feet to get to, and you're, you know, mostly upside-down... it's a little challenging to the lizard brain.

But if I fall off it enough I will get unscared, right?

I wish I had discovered this sport when I was fourteen. Well, I mean, I did some bouldering when I was twelve, thirteen, but it was very informal stuff. I still like top rope better than bouldering; bouldering is all about the upper body strength and the explosive power, and I am (a) a girl and (b) stocky and (c) fat and (d) old, things which collectively make it all the more difficult (Guys like bouldering. Especially skinny guys). Also, bouldering is over too damned fast. You try, you fall, you lie there and pant for a while and you try again. Peak effort, very quickly.

I like the more extended effort of top roping, and I also like that you can keep coming back at a problem if you're not sticking it, because you know, you fall, you fall two or three feet, and then you just have to scramble back up to the hard bit.

But the whole rock-climbing thing in general, I would like to have been doing for many more years than I have been.

It's hard and it's rewarding in all the same ways writing is, in that it's a problem-solving activity and it's all about cowboying up and finishing things that sometimes seem much bigger than you. With the additional joy of hard sharp physical activity.

But both things are all about pushing your limits and developing technique, and it seems like an awful lot of what I learn in either field is applicable to the other. You get better through practice, and you get joy through getting better. It's a meditation.

*Dude, check out the elaborate punctuation on that baby